The Enlightened Dog Trainer
By Sarah Fulcher, CDBC
The enlightened dog trainer makes training fun. Instead of drudgery it becomes a game. They are connected, in tune, and invested in their canine partner. They are engaging, dynamic, using praise, movement, play, and other rewards to build desired behaviours. They know when to stop, leaving the animal wanting more instead of checking out.
The enlightened dog trainer is in control of their own emotions. They know when to walk away, when to just not attempt a session, and when to quit while they’re ahead. They never blame the dog for failures, knowing it’s the trainer’s responsibility to break things down in a way the dog can understand and to communicate clearly to them. They know that animals can have off days too, and that a dog has a right to say “no”, for perhaps they are sore, ill, or frightened.
The enlightened dog trainer treats their students with kindness and patience. They have a great deal of empathy for their student whether human, canine, or other animal. They understand that learning new skills is challenging and takes time, good teaching, support, clarity, lots of reinforcement, and the occasional gentle steering back on track when things have gone a bit off the intended path.
The enlightened dog trainer treats their peers with respect. They understand that while everyone may not make the same choices, that the vast majority who work with dogs do so because they love them. Instead of dividing, they seek to find common ground. They understand there is something to learn from everyone.
The enlightened dog trainer trains without ego. They are creative and think outside the box. They read the dog in front of them, and adjust the training program to meet the individual’s needs. They do not limit themselves based on politics or ideology, or define themselves by what they will not do. Rather, they think critically and listen to what the dog says they need. They are forever a student, striving to gain more knowledge and become better at their craft. They know that training is an art and a science.
The enlightened dog trainer will always do what is best for the dog.